Squadron Leader Trevor Southgate
Unit : 512 Squadron, 46 Group
Date 18th Sept 1944. Operation Market Garden. 512 Sqdn R.A.F. Aircraft Dakota KG.570. Stationed at Broadwell, 46 Group, Transport Command. Crew:
S/Ldr Southgate - Captain
F/Lt Saunders - 2nd Pilot
F/Lt Bryant - Navigator
F/O Parry - W/operator
We were detailed on this day to take a Horsa Glider from Broadwell to a LZ near Arnhem. The Horsa carried 2 pilots, a jeep, a 6 pdr anti-tank gun and 2 army gunners.
When a few minutes from the LZ we were hit by flak which set fire to the aircraft below the flight deck floor. This spread rapidly and was soon near the overload tanks within the main cabin. The flight deck escape hatch was jammed, which meant leaving by the rear door after crash landing. Some of these tanks exploded on impact. We all had burns, F/Lt Saunders being the worst, F/O Parry had a broken ankle, and myself a fractured elbow.
We crawled into a small wood and eventually found by Dutch folks who had been in a church tower, and saw us crash. They took charge and moved us away to a house in a small village in the area. We stayed here for about a week looked after by Mr and Mrs Tuit; who took a great risk and were very brave. Everyone involved were in danger of capture and I cannot speak too highly of their efforts on our behalf.
We were finally rescued by an Army unit in a half-track vehicle at night, who moved us towards Nijmegen at high speed. Here we separated, F/Lt Saunders and I to the hospital, none of us ever met again. The war continued and we all went our separate ways.
My thanks to Trevor Southgate and to Alan Hartley for this story.
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